Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mom's Banana Bread with Almond Streusel

My mom is one of the tiniest people and healthiest eaters I know, so she was never one for random mid-week baking when I was growing up.  Unless of course, there were bananas that were going off in which case we'd be treated to banana bread for breakfast, second breakfast, and lunch (as long as it would ever last).  I don't even remember eating bananas as a kid, so I suspect this is the only reason that she bought them in the first place (correct me if I'm wrong here, Mom).

Overripe bananas beget delicious baked treats.  Not groundbreaking territory here.  But in the realm of banana bread recipes, Mom's is one of the best and lowest in fat out there.  I realize using shortening is a bit of a faux pas these days, but if you read your labels it's pretty easy to find a brand that is trans-fat free.  I've experimented a lot with this and shortening really seems to give the bread better structure (or a tender crumb, as they say) than butter does while using less of it.  Even better, the recipe as written is one-bowl and one-step.


To compensate for this relative healthiness and ease, I added a good sprinkle of an almond streusel on top.  The struesel is optional, but I wouldn't skip it.  What isn't made better with a streusel topping?  Nothing.  While I love nuts on banana bread, I'm fundamentally opposed to nuts in it, but if you like a banana nut bread, feel free to add 1/2 cup of chopped nuts to the mixed dough.

Mom's Banana Bread with Almond Streusel

Makes one 9" x 5" loaf
Total time:  60-70 minutes (Active time 10-15 minutes)

  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 overripe mashed bananas
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups flour (I like 1/2 all-purpose and 1/2 whole wheat)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine ingredients in order listed (shortening and sugar should be well combined before adding other ingredients and do not over-mix).  Pour mixture into greased and floured loaf pan.

  • 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped or slivered almonds
  • whole nutmeg (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Combine first 5 ingredients with your hands until the mixture resembles chunky sand.  Add almonds and sprinkle mixture over the top of unbaked banana bread.  Grate whole nutmeg over the top, if using.

Bake loaf at 350F for 45-60 minutes until a tester pulls out clean.  Cool for at least 15-20 minutes in the pan before cutting.


  1. I'll certainly be trying this one out! Thx Abbey! :)

  2. Well, I just had to comment on this! Although I can't produce documentation, I am pretty sure you had one or two fresh bananas during your childhood. This is indeed one of my tried and true recipes, which comes from Bovina's Country Cupboard cookbook, circa 1975 (a gift from my grandparents Lester and Jean Hoy). But as usual, you took a good recipe and made it even better, by adding cinnamon and vanilla -- and I am definitely going to try it that way next time I make it. (I might even go wild and add the streusel!)